COUNTDOWN NOTE: Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1 is the #9 Album of 2015. Sure, this pick is 100% contingent on whether or not you watch the TV series (which hasn’t shown the same fire or flair in Season 2 as it did in Season 1). But good music is there to be had on this album, especially from breakout star Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal on the show.
Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1 is the debut album derived from the music for the FOX series Empire. The soundtrack was released on March 10, 2015. There is a clear star in the making featured on some of these songs, but the rest is a bit bland, a stark contrast to the series itself.
The show, which just wrapped up its first season, has a King Lear concept, where three brothers fight to succeed their ailing father as head of his record company. Along the way, two of the brothers make music featured on the show, and various guest artists have come on the show and made music with the brothers. The music for the show is produced by famed music man Timbaland.
The songs that prominently feature members of the show are the ones that tend to shine through. Towards the end, songs become more about the guest artists, and these are overall weak efforts for the artists when compared to their normal repertoire.
The emergent star from the whole enterprise has to be Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal on the show. His songs are the electric ones. His voice carries, both like a lion and like a soft butterfly. He can be a star, if this show hasn’t already made him one, and pulling a double as an actor and a singer should be in his future.
Kicking off the standard and deluxe versions of the soundtrack is “Good Enough,” a croon from Smollett that is more than good enough. The song is part of the lifeblood of the show, as it details Jamal’s struggle to escape from his oppressive father’s shadow. This song is universal, and we all feel sometimes as if we’re not good enough. But if we could pump out a song like this, our mood would be instantly modified.
Other Smollett tracks rang with fire. “No Apologies,” which featured Yazz (his brother Hakeem on the show), was brutal and honest. “Keep Your Money” was another act of civil disobedience towards his father. Every song with Smollett made the listener feel something real, feel some sort of connection.
Yazz, the other undisputed rising star of the show, somewhat made a mockery of hip-hop. His songs seem to reach towards the depths of rap music, the pitfalls where music about real life and the struggle become music about drugs and butts. “Drip Drop” carries this message, and does so in an entirely uneven way, leading to disappointment for the longest song on the soundtrack.
And speaking of length, that’s another real problem for this soundtrack. Because all of the songs are featured in very short spurts in the shows, the songs on the soundtrack do the same. Time and time again on the album, you’d be vibing to a song and then without any notice it would suddenly just end. It’s understandable why the songs need to be so short for the show, but extending some of them independently wouldn’t hurt.
If you’re a fan of show (as I am), then even though you can see the flaws of the soundtrack, you still enjoy reminiscing about a season of excellent television. But if you’re not a fan of the show, it may be hard to get much more enjoyment than Smollett’s croons on the soundtrack.
Best Song: “You’re So Beautiful” (feat. Jussie Smollett & Yazz) – Besides providing one of the most pivotal moments of the entire season, this song is also just flat-out catchy as hell.
Worst Song: “New York Raining” (feat. Charles Hamilton & Rita Ora) – Song has virtually no connection to the show, and it isn’t even good.
Cast of Empire TV Show http://ift.tt/1PyznNN